Soaring natural gas prices could mean higher home heating and electric bills for Minnesota families this winter
Natural gas prices in the United States are soaring, and that could mean Minnesota families and businesses will be sore when they open their heating and electric bills this winter. This soreness will stem from the fact that natural gas accounts for 66 percent of home heating in our state, and is growing increasingly important in the electricity generation sector.
The graph below shows daily natural gas prices at the Henry Hub, which is the national benchmark for natural gas prices.
Natural gas prices spiked during Winter Storm Uri, also known as the 2021 Polar Vortex, causing Minnesota households to incur $350 in extra heating costs for that week, alone. Now, prices are climbing above $5 per million British thermal units (MMBtu), and which is more than twice as high as last year at this time. This will translate into higher energy costs for everyone.
Thankfully, Minnesota electric companies can help mitigate the impact rising natural gas prices would have on electricity bills by burning more coal, instead of natural gas.
Unfortunately, Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power have signaled that they will be prematurely shutting down their coal-fired power plants. This unwise move leaves Minnesotans exposed to rising natural gas prices and reduces the diversity of our fuel supply.
These companies should reevaluate their plans to shut these facilities down before the end of their useful lifetimes to ensure that Minnesotans have the most reliable, affordable electricity possible.